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Case Study: Leadership at the Legal Services Commission

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women debating The Legal Services Commission has put leadership within its organisation firmly on the agenda, with a development programme designed for its top managers. Such has been the success that a similar scheme for middle managers is considered as having high-potential.


The Legal Services Commission, the public body which is responsible for legal aid, is running a leadership development programme for its top 160 managers, including the Executive Team, business unit heads and their senior management teams. The programme features 360-degree feedback, development centres and a three-day workshop.

Roffey Park, the executive education specialist, is running the workshop and the development centres, which involve no rating of the participants.

“We wanted to incorporate development centres into our leadership programme to give people an opportunity to experiment as part of their development,” said Alan Littlefield, HR Consultant at the LSC.

“Roffey Park designed the centres around our Leadership Profile – a competency framework for leadership. Their approach to development centres is different from the more rigid, time-tabled format. It is very much focused on development. The centres themselves are almost like a laboratory, where people have time and space to try new approaches.”

Participants attend the two-day development centres in groups of 14 each time and undertake group exercises on visioning and strategic planning as well as individual exercises based on the LSC’s Leadership Profile. The participants are observed by coaches who provide qualitative feedback on their behaviour.

Littlefield said: “For us, having external coaches gave the participants real freedom to experiment. They provide challenge and support that helps the participants to draw out the learning.”

Following the development centre, Roffey Park runs a three-day workshop for the participants, called Leaders for the Future. This examines issues including culture, working relationships, making a personal impact and influencing others.

Alongside the leadership programme, the LSC is providing a range of development initiatives around managing performance. It is also introducing a coaching and mentoring framework and it is accrediting managers to act as peer coach-mentors for others in the organisation.

“These initiatives have greatly benefited the organisation,” said Littlefield. “Leadership is now firmly on our agenda and people understand that it requires a mix of people skills and task skills. There is already a real sense that our senior managers are developing their leadership capability.”

The Legal Services Commission is now considering running a leadership programme – involving development centres – for its high potential middle managers, with the aim of promoting effective talent management.

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Annie Hayes

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